"One Perfect Part at a Time"


Fanning the Coals

It’s no secret one of my lusts is machining in metal and wax. Actually, machining any material is fine with me. Wax became my favored material because it machines so well, especially with very small tool bits. Primarily, jewelry CNC carving for lost wax casting (LWC).

But I have also machined wax for LWC casting in brass, and that also works very well. I am not involved with casting large objects. At least not yet. But I don’t have an interest in doing large scale sand mold type casting. That’s a whole ‘nother sideline.

My light weight Taig equipment is perfect for machining wax. Taig tools also do an admirable job on small metal cutting as well. I have milled everything from stainless steel to cast iron. I have had no problems with brass, at least the types I have machined. Like most metals, there are many alloys. I choose the easy to machine.

I recently viewed a railroading model project (a hand-car)* made by an old friend Ed Hume. It got me re-considering my old lust for live steam engines and locomotives. They are machined directly from metal. That fanned the embers again and created a bit of remorse that my metal shop hasn’t been productive as was intended, except for the LWC silver work.

*Don’t know how long this link will last.

I designed my shop and machine equipment size specifically to create model train and model engine components. Not (what I consider) full size, or real life-size components. The term often used is “Model-Engineering” workshop.  

I recently dusted off one of the machines, the Proxxon PD400 mini-lathe and turned down some leaded steel stock into a mandrel and cap for my wax carving. That effort really felt good, experiencing those perfect cuts and… Continue reading

Tiny but Mighty Project

Mighty Mouse

Mighty Mouse

I haven’t posted here for some time. I have been busy doing a ton of work on other projects and the “machining of steel” part of my shop has been a bit idle. I have been machining wax so that counts for something.

But I made up for the slack a very tiny bit last night by machining a small locating pin for my wife’s sewing machine from a steel rod. Hardly worth mentioning actually, but like I said, its been a long time and no posts here.

What I started with was about a two inch length of 3/16 (0.1875) inch steel rod. The pin finished out at about 5/8 (0.625) inches long. The ends needed to be different diameters for half the length each. I took no measurements and just turned the pin to fit the existing holes. This was a repair/replacement for an existing plastic pin that broke. I replace one several years ago that is along side of this current one. The pins are used for locating a removable platform or deck around the sewing head. The steel pins are of course much more durable than the original.

The fat end of the pin is a press fit into the plastic platform base and the small end slides into a locating hole on the machine base.

OK, so the point is — this pin is not something you can just go somewhere and purchase, and it is far better than the existing plastic part it replaces. It is a better invention. (That’s my favorite new word, invention.)

It was super easy to make. The lathe (I used the PD400) is always set up. Total time even with finding the steel rod, was about 30 minutes. I also used the cutoff saw to cut… Continue reading

PD400 Tail Post Clamp

I purchased the adjustable control handle and bolt more than a year ago when I was rebuilding a camera head mount for my daughter. In fact I bought several with the proper bolt size for this application. I was going to experiment a little.

As you can see in the third picture, the original Proxxon PD400 design uses a simple socket hex head bolt for use with a large hex wrench. Of course the wrench can fall out of the socket and is always difficult to find when you need it.

The handle shown was a bit too “fat” to just replace the bolt. So today I did a bit of minor grinding of the tail post to provide clearance for the “fat” part of the handle. About 15 minutes work with a Dremel type tool and the handle fits perfectly. I can’t even see the grinding area.

The handle is spring loaded so the position can be easily adjusted by just pulling up on the handle and re-positioning.

It works so wonderful I can’t imagine why Proxxon didn’t do this as a standard assembly. Actually, I can’t understand why I waited so long to make this simple modification.

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